The same article goes on to say that Alfred the Great (whom we might presume to have been well educated for his day) used 'less' in the 9th century, and the introduction of 'fewer' only dates to the 18th century.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fewer_vs._less said:Another common misconception about the distinction between the words is that less and fewer are used for describing uncountable and countable nouns, respectively. This is untrue, however, as the distinction is simply singular vs. plural. Take the example, "I have one less item." By following the countable vs. uncountable rule, one would assume that "one fewer item" would be correct (one item is most certainly countable), but this is false.
But the Wiki's 'one less/fewer item' theory is a load of blx. The items have already been counted (one) so cannot be counted again, that is unless someone devises a 'counted squared' theory. 'One item' cannot be counted for the purposes of the 'rule' as it already has been and the quantity has been concisely defined. So according to the Wiki, "ten or less items" in the supermarket basket checkout would be correct, and should not incur the wrath of the pedants.That works for me, but following it up in Wikipedia apparently it is a misconceived rule:.
Usage rules. 20 years from now, 'one pence' will be as normal as 'the available data does not support your conclusion'. Shock horror.Just to add a bit of interest, why does the chancellor of the exchequer, and other people who should know better refer to "one pence"? Do they not know that the UK's smallest 'copper' coin is one penny and you cannot grammatically correctly have one of a plural noun? (with the possible exception of trousers etc. which are incorrectly pluralised anyway)
But surely it can't be three times less dense, can it? I suppose it can if the multiplier is 0.33 rather than 3. But that's not what he said.Instead of less dense/less massive do you mean?.